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Monday, December 11th, 2023
the Second Week of Advent
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 1

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Verses 1-43


Deuteronomy 1:1-43


There are three things which need to be brought out in a definite way.

1. The suggestion of the verbal inspiration of the Bible. The chapter opens with this tremendous statement: "These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel." That Moses spake under the inspiration of God, we know. The Lord Jesus in referring to the Books of the Pentateuch said, concerning the words of Moses, "Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God?"

The Lord again, on another occasion, said to the rich man who was in hell, and regarding his brothers who were yet upon the earth, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them." The Apostle Paul did not hesitate to say that he believed all things which were written in the Law (the five Books of Moses), and in the Prophets.

There are some Bibles which place the Words of the Lord Jesus in red. However, the Lord, Himself placed the words of Moses on an equality with His own words when He said, "If ye believe not his writings (Moses') how shall ye believe My Words?"

It is a wonderful thing to open the Bible and to know that we have before us the very words which God spake to Moses and to other Prophets.

2. God's knowledge of His people's location and whereabouts. It is almost beyond comprehension that the Lord should be so interested in the details of where His children are located the very conditions under which they dwell, and the surrounding's which mark their environment.

When these words were spoken to Israel, God's people were in the wilderness in a plain "over against the Red Sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab." Thus it is, God still knows all about us. He knows the way that we take; He knows whether we are dwelling in the wilderness, or in the land of Canaan. He knows all of our needs, because He knows our condition. How comforting it is!

3. God's purpose in recording for us the history of His people. We may be surprised that God gave to us such a complete and detailed account of the journeyings of the Children of Israel, and of the marvelous events which marked those journeyings. In the New Testament, however, the reason for this detailed information is thus recorded.

The Apostles, in the Holy Ghost said, "I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual-meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink." Then Paul adds, "But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples."

Farther down in the chapter Paul says, "All these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." With these things before us, we will surely give careful heed to every Divinely recorded statement concerning the travels, and the events recorded concerning the Children of Israel in the wilderness.

I. THE ELEVEN DAYS' JOURNEY (Deuteronomy 1:2 )

"(There are eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir unto Kadesh-barnea)."

It took two and one-half years to make this journey. This was due partly to the fact that there were more than a million persons en route a great army of men, women, and children, beside their goods, and cattle, so that they could not cover the ground rapidly. However, it does seem that God's people might have gone a little faster. Eleven days, ordinarily should have sufficed to have reached Kadesh-barnea. The slowness of Israel's movements portrays the slowness with which most children of God, even in our own times, are passing out of Egypt (the type of the world) into Kadesh-barnea (the type of the new life and the "rest that remaineth").

The Book of Hebrews tells us, "When for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God." Then the writer adds that they are babes. A baby is the sweetest thing in the world, yet it brings joy to the parents' hearts to see the rapidity with which the child grows into the youth, and then into the full growth of manhood or womanhood.

In writing to the Corinthians Paul emphasizes this same conception. He said, "I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it." He calls them "carnal," even "babes in Christ." How long shall we remain in our babyhood?

Let us press on to manhood and womanhood!

II. GO IN AND POSSESS THE LAND (Deuteronomy 1:8 )

1. The things set before us. Our key verse opens with the words: "Behold, I have set the land before you." How wonderful are the things which He has set before us! The 1st chapter of Ephesians reveals to the believer many of the possibilities which belong to saints. The whole Bible is given to the portrayal of the marvelous present and future possessions which belong to the children of God.

Paul even says, "All things are yours." The things present and the things to come are ours. However, the things which belong to the earth, should be reckoned but loss, that we might gain Christ May we not truthfully sing, "Lord, lift me up and let me stand, By faith, on Heaven's table-land; A higher plane than I have found, Lord, plant my feet on higher ground"?

2. Possessing our possessions. The land was theirs by Divine decree. It was "set before them." God said, "Go in and possess" the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them."

There are many things which are ours through God's gift, which are not ours by possession. God in grace makes them possible, but we, by conquest, must make them actual . Many Christians live in the lowlands of this earth, far beneath their possessions. They are impoverished in spiritual attainments, when they should be dwelling in the uplands of accomplishment enriched by those higher and nobler attainments of spiritual gifts.


"The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of Heaven for multitude."

1. The Children of Israel had been greatly blessed. They had been saved and delivered from the tyranny of their bondage to Pharaoh. They had gone out with a great shout of praise; they had been led steadily on their way. God had met them at every turn of the road: from the day when they had first gone into Egypt and had dwelt in the land of Goshen. Under the patronage of Joseph and Pharaoh, they had steadily increased during four hundred years of bondage. God had continued to multiply them. Now, they stood on the verge of the land of promise. Behind them lay a desert infested with beasts and pitfalls. They certainly had much for which they could thank God.

Behold, how we, also, have been blessed. We can remember the pit out of which we were dug. We can remember what we were in the days when we walked in the lusts of the flesh, dead in trespasses and in sin; and how God quickened us, raised us up; how He brought us out, and led us in. Our blessings have been countless.

2. The Children of Israel had greater blessings ahead. In Deuteronomy 1:11 , Moses uttered the prayer, "(The Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as He hath promised you!)"

Each one of us, no matter how great the blessings of the past may have been, have abundance of glory lying still ahead. We have not gone so far in the Christian life, bat that there are other heights to climb. We have not received the tithe of all that God has for us, both now, and in the future.

IV. SEARCH OUT THE LAND (Deuteronomy 1:22-24 )

When they had heard God's command to go in and possess the land, they were fearful, and said to Moses, "We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come." This saying was acceptable to Joshua, and he took twelve men, one of a tribe, and they went into the land and searched it out.

From the human viewpoint this seemed wisdom, and yet, withal, we cannot but feel that it was unbelief and a trembling heart that caused them to delay the march until they had searched the land.

Was God's Word not enough? He had told them to go up and possess it. He had urged them saying, "Fear not, neither be discouraged," yet, they hesitated.

It is always true when believers seek any reason to delay their faithfulness to God, and their prompt obedience to His will, they will get into the lowlands of doubt and despair, and will be in danger of failing the Lord.

God says it? does it? asks it?

Then, I will say, Amen!

He speaks the truth, He does the best,

He asks what's right; and then

I follow where He points the way

O'er mountain, moor, or fen.

V. "YE WOULD NOT GO UP" (Deuteronomy 1:26 )

The sins that marked their refusal are thus stated.

1. They rebelled against the Commandment of the Lord.

2. They murmured in their tents and said the Lord hated them.

3. They said "Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart."

"The Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all way that ye went, until ye came into this place" Kadesh-barnea. He had proved in every way His love for them, and His ability to care for them, yet they complained, and rebelled against Him.

We fear that this is the story which confronts many a believer at this hour. We, too, have rebelled; we have murmured; we have been filled with unbelief. Some have even gone so far as to complain that the Lord despises them, that He merely seeks to destroy them.

How strange it is that we quickly forget His great deliverances towards us, even such as He had shown to the Children of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Every little thing that happens disturbs the heart of the one who is not perfect toward Him, They had sent up the men to search out the land. The evil report of ten of the spies had filled them with fear and dread. Let us remember that the Lord, our God, is abundantly able to deliver us from every foe. He will go in the way before us. He will guard and will lead us on in the train of His triumph, giving us victory in all things.

He leads me in His triumph, and makes me conqueror,

He is my strength in weakness, my Guide and Counselor;

Apart from Him I'd falter, and soon fall by the way,

But with Him, I am victor in ev'ry fierce affray.

VI. THE DIVINE JUDGMENT (Deuteronomy 1:34-35 )

When God "heard the voice" of their words He was angry, and He said, "Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers."

In the Book of Hebrews the story is set forth as a warning to saints, and it reads thus: "To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief."

After the warning had been given, the Holy Spirit added: "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the Living God." God even says in Hebrews, "Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it."

How many there are today who are living in the same unbelief. God holds before saints a millennial rest. This rest is promised unto us even as the Canaan rest was promised unto the Children of Israel. They did not enter in because of their unbelief, their fear, and their rebellion. If they failed, may we not also fail? We are not talking of salvation, or of entrance into Heaven; we are talking of His Kingdom of rest. We are now standing at our Kadesh-barnea with the Lord's Coming at the door. When His Kingdom is established we may reign with Him. However, if we deny Him, He will also deny us.

VII. REPENTING TOO LATE (Deuteronomy 1:43 )

1. God's command. This was given in Deuteronomy 1:40 , and it reads, "Turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea." No sooner was the command given for retreat and retrenchment, than the men of Israel began to repent their mad folly. They said, "We have sinned against the Lord, we will go up and fight, according to all that the Lord our God commanded us." Then they girded on their weapons of war and were ready to go into the hills.

The Lord said, "Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you." Again the Children of Israel rebelled against the Lord's commandment, and "went presumptuously up into the hill." They had first rebelled against the command of the Lord to go, and they did not go; then they rebelled against the command of the Lord not to go and they went presumptuously.

The result was that they returned and wept before God, but the "Lord would not hearken" to their voice nor give ear to them.

In all of this we have a perfect picture of God's dealings with the saints of our day. Hebrews 6:4-6 must be read in connection with these startling statements. So likewise must we read Hebrews 12:15-17 in the light of this experience. There are Christians today who have refused to go through with God.

The Calebs and the Joshuas, the women and the children, who have not been rebellious, may go up; but those who have been signally blessed of God, and then fallen away, will come sooner or later to the place where God will say, "Too late; ye cannot enter in."

They, like Esau who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, may seek for it with tears, and yet may find no place of repentance with the Father.


In George Adam Smith's "Life of Henry Drummond," a story is told of an American student in attendance upon Edinburgh University. This student was a graduate of an American medical college, and was spending a year in post-graduate work in Edinburgh. At the close of his year, he called on Henry Drummond, then the recognized leader of the University, to bid him good-by. Drummond's parting words to him were, in essence, as follow:

"You have lost your opportunity at Edinburgh. You are a professing Christian. You have had as a side partner in the laboratory this year the most pronounced skeptic in the entire student body, yet you have done nothing by word or example to win him to the Christian faith. I am sorry for your sake."

The American student staggered under this unexpected blow. Nevertheless, he came to himself. He decided to forego the opening of his practice for a year, and to spend the next twelve months in Edinburgh, for the purpose of redeeming the lost opportunity referred to by Professor Drummond.

In the following autumn he met Mr. Drummond again. "Why," said Drummond, "I thought you were in America."

"No," replied the American, "I have decided to remain in Edinburgh and redeem the year I lost."

And he did. Near the close of the year, in one of the Sunday night meetings conducted by Henry Drummond at that time, the skeptic friend of the American student made open confession of his faith in Christ. He did more. At the same time he offered himself as a medical missionary in some needy field. The American student had won his man; had redeemed his lost opportunity, and had gained a wonderful new strength of character.

Not many persons have the chance to redeem lost opportunities. It behooves us, therefore, to improve our opportunities as they pass. The new year is a new opportunity; but it does not bring back past opportunities. Let this fact make us more faithful in making use of our chances to do good as we go along. H.

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Deuteronomy 1". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/deuteronomy-1.html.
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